(CNN) - Newt Gingrich on Friday urged Mitt Romney to go after President Barack Obama in next month's debates with a gusto the former House speaker knows well.
"When he walks in to debate Obama, he's got to be as tough with Obama as he was with me in Florida," Gingrich said in an interview on CNN's "Piers Morgan Tonight."
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After all, Gingrich said, Romney "is not in a competition to be likeable."
At two debates in Florida last January amidst their bitter struggle for the GOP presidential nomination, Romney lit into Gingrich.
The two entered the Florida primary locked up in the polls. But after some heavy stumping - and arguably some debate thumping - Romney emerged on top in the vote count, beating Gingrich by 14 points and claiming the state's delegate haul.
With Romney trailing Obama in favorability, Gingrich encouraged Romney to play aggressively on the debate stage. The most recent CNN/ORC International Poll of likely voters, conducted earlier this month after the conclusion of both conventions, showed Obama with a 9 point advantage over Romney in their respective favorability ratings.
"He's in a competition to be capable," Gingrich said. "We need somebody who can turn America around. We need him to convince us that a Romney recovery is better than an Obama stagnation. Unless he can do that, I don't care how much effort they spend trying to make him likeable - it won't work.
Appearing separately on the program, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley argued that Obama has produced more than stagnation.
"I think the polls show overwhelmingly that most of us understand that the wrecking of our economy was the result of policies that were inflicted upon us during the Bush years," he said. "We've now had 30 months in a row of positive private sector job growth. Foreclosures are now lower than they were before President Obama took office. And while we still have a lot of work to do, we are headed in a much better direction than we were the day he took that oath."
In the interview, Gingrich also responded an apparent contrast between Romney's comments that he had not - and would be disqualified from the presidency if - he paid more in his taxes than he owed, and his campaign's acknowledgement that he could have paid less had he reported all of his charitable giving.
"I don't pay more than are legally due and frankly if I had paid more than are legally due, I don't think I'd be qualified to become president," Romney said in a July interview. "I'd think people would want me to follow the law and pay only what the tax code requires."
But documents released Friday showed the Republican presidential nominee reported on his 2011 tax return that approximately 16% of his income went to charity, while his campaign said the actual amount was 30%.
Gingrich initially laughed and took a swipe at Vice President Joe Biden, charging that the vice president ought to then "resign this evening because he has said enough different goofy things over time that you couldn't possibly remain vice president."
Then, Gingrich described Romney's charitable giving as a credit to the GOP candidate.
"I think it is a good thing for Romney," Gingrich said. "Apparently he's done this his whole life, to have a very substantial donation process for charities, for his church, and for things he wants to do voluntarily as a citizen. That's also a kind of self-tax to keep civilized society moving."
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A lot of Americans are quite illiterate and stupid , go for it and have another 4 years with Obama and see where it will take you.
Get your heads out of the sand ,you have a huge deficit and national debt , losing jobs daily , no foreign policy whatsoever and you just had a terrorist attack on one of your embassy which slaughtered 4 people.
Where is your leadership , oh yes he is being a goofball on Letterman and attending fundraisers with celebrities.
Absolutely shameful !!!
Advice from Newt ? When was the last time Newt won an election ? Perhaps if Newt wanted to give advice on how to get 95% of Congress to reprimand you for unethical behaviour he might be credible.
The "main stream media" is a term coined by the 3rd place wannabe's like Fox. The conservative press is looking for "product differentiation" in order to justify their existence.
Great advice only one problem Obamas been a class act and when they attack it backfires. Newt on the other hand was the man that went after Clinton for keeping a mistress when he had one like shooting ducks in a barrel for the not so ready for prime time Romney
Sorry Newt but you just didn't cut it and you've still got your britches crossed over your loss. Only a loser can advise another one. Takes one to know one!
Here's an idea. Instead of getting tough, how about putting together a campaign with ideas that make sense. These "get tough" directives from the Republicans are more like a playground aggression than a strategy. If we aren't going to deal in thoughts, why don't we just go straight to an arm wrestling championship?
Newt is a verbal and cerebral giant. Romney is very sharp and all you Dem's that see only what you want to and believe everthing you read and hear from the mainstream media are just plain shallow. You buy into this "disdain for the rich" that Obama has told you you should have like it's a sin to be successful. Romney is a much better man than Obama's mind game he has so effectively pulled over on people has made you believe. I remember an Al Pacino line from the Godfather II. The disdain for the wealthy the other side says you should have is to keep you from getting yours. Obama acts like he's doing the world a bunch of favors but I don't consider high gas prices,unemployment,lax foreign policy, unmitigated dept,forcefully ramming unpopular laws through using borderline if not illegal methods, lie after lie,broken promise after promise, and unelected czars appointed to butt their way into my medical treatment any kind of favor whatsoever. By the way I clean houses for a living and I'm not one bit jealous of even the wealthiest people I clean for. Jealosy is a character flaw not an asset. How much has Obama and Biden given to charity in their lifetime?
Seems like lately Mitt's busy doing what he did to Gincrich to HIMSELF.
MItt, never listen to a loser like Gingrich! His record speaks for itself!
"He's got to be tough with Obama", said Newt? Wow that is brilliant Newt! Every candidate has to be tough with their opponent. Is that the best advice you can give? How about advising him to think before opening mouth, something he needs to learn and that you must have learned the hard way, can be self destructing.